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University of Manchester Students' Union Archive

Date range: 1851-2019

Number of items:

The University of Manchester Students' Union traces its origins to a debating society established at Owens College in 1851. Although this only existed for a few years, it was succeeded by a formal students' union in 1861. Its main purpose was holding debates but in 1867, the Union issued its first magazine, and it has continued to publish newspapers and magazines ever since.

In 1900 a separate Women's Students' Union was formed (the Men's and Women's Unions did not formally unite until 1967), and in 1908, the two Unions moved into shared premises on Oxford Road. Other student societies were affiliated to the Unions, and used their building for meetings. One of the most important activities of the Union until the 1960s was the annual Rag event. The form of this changed over the years, but usually involved a parade and a Rag magazine; the main objective of Rag was charitable and it collected a great deal of money for Manchester hospitals and medical charities.

In the post-1945 period, the Union became increasingly active in campaigning, and enjoyed closer links with national students groups. It was vocal in advocating student participation in the running of the University and won the right to represent student interests on University governing bodies. The Union also played a major role in student social life, establishing a highly successful music venue, the Academy, in the 1980s. In 2004, the University and UMIST Unions merged to form a single students' union.

The extensive archive dates back to 1851, and includes the minutes of the Union's main governing bodies, handbooks and prospectuses, financial records, cuttings books, photographs and copies of the newspapers News Bulletin (1932-1960) and Mancunion/Student Direct (1964-2019). The archive is particularly vaulable for the study of actvities and views, social, political and cultural, of Manchester's student population from the 1850s to the present day.

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Further Information:

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.

Catalogue for UMIST Students' Union archive also available online via ELGAR.

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